Speed Reviews

18 AUG 2022
My neighbourhood will likely have a speed review in the near future. The community board is currently considering options before they make their request to the greater council formally. And then there will be some back and forth with Waka Kotahi in order to get agreement on what will move forward. Then there will be a consultation period before it is finally agreed, and the roads are marked and sign-posted.

It's a bit of a process. Fortunately it has been streamlined somewhat by some recent proposed legislation - Reshaping Streets .

The Minister of Transport is proposing changes to legislation to make it easier for local authorities (like councils) to make street changes that support public transport, active travel and placemaking. These proposals would enable local authorities to make street changes more efficiently and provide new ways for communities to be involved in changes that affect them.

There is a seminar for the public on these changes - it will be interesting to see whether NIMBYs are out in force or not. It is important to note that the changes are to streamline and formalise the process - not to make it less democratic, or to "take roads back from cars" as some politicians seem to be saying.

That said what is happening in my neighbourhood? Minor residential streets are proposed to be changed to 40kmh from 50kmh. This is not good enough... and not a drastic enough difference to drive a change in behaviour. I've posted about a previous change in street speeds locally - Low Speed Neighbourhood - and the streets there were changed to 30kmh. A big win for those residents.

But why 30kmh and not 60kmh? The NSW Centre for Road Safety has a good page on this - Speed and fatalities - which says it very clearly... Danger increases with speed.

I'll just copy the entire text here as it is short and too the point: -

High vehicle speeds greatly increase the risk of injury and death to pedestrians.

The speed at which a vehicle is travelling when it hits a pedestrian (the impact speed) determines the severity of the injury and the chances of survival. Drivers need to slow down and prepare to stop for pedestrians.

In a crash between a car and a pedestrian, there is a 10 per cent risk that a pedestrian will be killed at 30 km/h, 40 per cent risk at 40 km/h, and a 90 per cent risk at 50 km/h.

It will be very disappointing if the review only reduces the chance of death to 40% when for just a little more effort that risk is reduced to 10%. And it is very likely to be lower still as at 30kmh there is much more time for everyone to react to the danger and prevent it.

Consistency counts too - if residential streets were all 30kmh then no one would be confused but would instead know not to speed.

I hope that Waka Kotahi, the CCC, and the local community board stick to the precedent established in the more recent speed review. Otherwise we will have to revisit this all again as reality bites and the 40kmh mistake is revealed as that - a missed opportunity for real change.
By Hab3